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The Church Is Flat: The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church Movement Paperback – August 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: JoPa Productions, LLC (August 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615524311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615524313
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,423,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tony Jones, M.Div. (Fuller Theological Seminary), Ph.D. (Princeton Theological Seminary) is the theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis. He has written many books on spirituality, ministry, and the emerging church movement, including The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier. Tony has worked at several churches, a mission agency, and served as the national coordinator of Emergent Village for several years. Currently, he is a writer and small business owner, running events and social media training for church leaders. Tony lives in Edina, Minnesota with his wife and three children.

More About the Author

Tony Jones (M.Div., Ph.D.) is a theologian, professor, and writer. Currently, he serves as theologian-in-residence at Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, and teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Tony has written a dozen books on Christian ministry, spirituality, prayer, and new church movements. He lives in Minnesota with his wife, kids, and dogs.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By kinnybee on August 16, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I just finished the book today and have to say that I am very impressed with Jones' latest work. A "lightly amended version" of his recent doctoral dissertation, the bibliography reads like a who's who of postmodern scholarship. The first chapter in particular goes in depth in outlining the variety of intellectual property from which Jones draws to underpin his research into the Emerging Church Movement (ECM). It is not a light read by any stretch of the imagination. Acknowledging this, Jones admits that the dissertation style is not his favorite, and jokingly offers the reader forgiveness for "skipping the sections that don't interest you."

At the core of the book is Jones' own study of the ECM. He performed research into eight leading churches within the movement, including his home church of Solomon's Porch in Minnesota (founded by Doug Pagitt), Cedar Ridge Community Church in Maryland (founded by Brian McLaren), and Vintage Faith Church in California (founded by Dan Kimball). From both the quantitative and qualitative data he obtained through his research, Jones identifies four concrete practices common to all the studied churches: Communion, Worship, Preaching, and Community. He also identifies five practices of virtue: Hospitality, Theology, Creating Art, Priesthood of All Believers, and Sacred Space. Jones sees relationality as the "binding characteristic" of these practices, and turns to the "relational ecclesiology" of Jurgen Moltmann as a means for bringing theological understanding to these practices.

And for me, this is where the book shines. As a founding leader within the ECM himself, Jones readily admits that the theology of the ECM is not well articulated.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Roberts on August 27, 2011
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If you are new to Jones' work or the emerging church movement, check out his previous book "The New Christians." But if you want to gain an even deeper understanding of the ECM, pick up "The Church Is Flat." Here, Jones writes less as a participant in the ECM and more as an academic theologian in order to explain the history, practices, and theology of the movement. The book is a lightly emended version of his doctoral dissertation, providing an excellent sociological analysis of the ECM with an extensive bibliography. Additionally, Jones critically engages one of the most important theologians of the last fifty years, Jürgen Moltmann to develop a more robust ecclesiology for the ECM.

While this is not a book aimed at a popular-level audience as his previous books have been, Jones has managed to write a scholarly book that reads remarkably well. He also works hard to remain aware of his own favorable bias towards the ECM in order to facilitate a more objective study of the movement - an effort that I believe paid off in the end. Indeed, I would argue that Jones' "The Church is Flat" is the new go-to book for understanding the past, present, and future of the emerging church movement. This is an exceptionally smart book that demands equally serious attention from participants, sympathizers, and critics of the ECM.

A central part of the book is a study of eight emerging congregations, involving interviews with pastors and laypersons, as well as Jones' analysis of the relational practices and theological intuitions that are common to the movement. For the ECM, relationality is absolutely central - thus its strong emphasis on `friendship.' Jones describes the concentration of the book as "a theological treatment of the relational nature of the [ECM].
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Cornwall on October 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Tony Jones writes about the Emergent Church and its understanding of the church (ecclesiology) from the inside. He was among the founders of this movement and served as executive director of Emergent Village. This book is his unedited Princeton Ph.D. dissertation in practical theology. It reads like a dissertation, which means that it has a lot of apparatus that will be of interest to scholars, but perhaps not others. Still, there is nothing like it out there.

He looks at eight emergent congregations, some of which are connected to denominations and others are not. He shares their vision and seeks to understand them in light of the writings of theologian Jurgen Moltmann, who you might call Tony's theological muse. This isn't an uncritical look at the movement or at Moltmann -- that's the benefit of a doctoral project, one's mentor will push you to look at things critically.

In any case, if you are interested in the emergent church movement this is a most helpful book.

(book purchaseed at Amazon as a Kindle ebook).
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